IDEA Members Johnson Controls, Cogenra Launch Chiller Solutions with Advanced Solar Technology

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Combined technologies collect 75 percent solar energy, qualify for incentive

International District Energy Association (IDEA) member Johnson Controls has introduced a solar cooling solution that features a solar-collector system developed by IDEA member Cogenra. The solar-cooling solution is designed to reduce energy costs for large buildings across North America by combining high-efficiency chillers with hybrid solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) technologies.

IDEA President Rob Thornton states, “IDEA is pleased to see technology and business collaboration among our member companies who are seeking to achieve scale in optimizing clean energy solutions like solar coupled with air conditioning. I can see this technology offering substantial savings and environmental benefits in warm climates where electricity grid constraints drive high costs like the Middle East and Australia. A renewable cooling solution can provide a dual benefit to utilities and end-use customers alike.”    

“Our customers deserve heating and cooling solutions that push the limits of technology design to reduce utility costs and maximize investments,” said Joe Brillhart, director of global industrial chillers at Johnson Controls and Chair of the IDEA Board of Directors. “When you consider warm environments like Arizona or California, this solution is the financially responsible way to capture energy from the sun while leveraging one of the best absorption chillers on the market.”

The solution uses the YORK Absorption Chiller and features PV waste-heat recovery technology, converting 75 percent of the sun’s rays into energy, compared to 15 percent efficiency in a traditional PV system. The solution qualifies for state and utility incentives across North America, especially in warm climates where cooling demand places a significant stress on the power grid, driving up electricity rates.

The solar-cooling solution integrates into any building controls system, including the Metasys® building management system. It generates hot water for the absorption chiller to air condition buildings and electricity to reduce demand from the power grid. The solution features a solar-collector system developed by Cogenra, a leading developer of distributed solar cogeneration technology, based in Mountain View, Calif.

“Solar cooling offers a compelling value proposition for building owners by reducing both peak time energy costs and demand charges,” said Gilad Almogy, chief executive officer and founder of Cogenra.

About IDEA: The International District Energy Association is an independent, non-profit industry association formed in 1909 with headquarters in Westborough, Massachusetts which represents the interests of approximately 2,000 members from 25 countries involved in operation, design, construction and optimization of district heating, district cooling and CHP (cogeneration) systems, with a majority of members in North America, as well as Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

About Johnson Controls: Johnson Controls is a global diversified technology and industrial leader serving customers in more than 150 countries. Our 170,000 employees create quality products, services and solutions to optimize energy and operational efficiencies of buildings; lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles; and interior systems for automobiles. For additional information, please visit

About Cogenra: Cogenra offers distributed solar cogeneration solutions that combine photovoltaic power and hot water generation to deliver the lowest-cost solar electricity and heat. Leveraging falling silicon costs and highly-scalable worldwide module manufacturing capacity, Cogenra offers a low-cost and proven solution requiring minimal capital investment. By tapping into the pre-existing infrastructure of solar PV and hot water installation and financing experts, the company has established sales and customer delivery capabilities necessary to rapidly serve new markets. Funded by Khosla Ventures and led by a team of seasoned executives and engineers, the company has developed or deployed projects with more than 30 commercial, industrial and institutional customers. For additional information, please visit

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